Good day Ladies and Gentlemen and greetings to Rivers people.
My name is Prince Tonye T.J.T Princewill, the Labour party candidate in the just concluded 2015 Gubernatorial elections.
First of all, I want to start by thanking the Almighty God for life.
As expected, the 2015 election for Governorship has come and gone but the bitter taste it has left will not be forgotten in a hurry. With hindsight, the outcome could have been predicted long ago but many of us were fooled into thinking that things would be different, card readers would be invaluable and elections, no longer business as usual. As a voter here in Rivers State told me yesterday, “The greatest trick INEC ever pulled is making us believe that in 2015, our votes would actually count.”
While I think this view may be a little harsh in many states, that frustration is understandable here. Where without the presence of INEC officials or material in some areas, results were declared in the very same areas as if elections actually did hold. What kind of message are we sending? Can the people who experienced this ever have faith in politics or the electoral process again? This process was neither free nor fair and it certainly was not credible. But in the end, INEC felt otherwise. I will come to that.
It is no doubt understandable that some will celebrate this exercise, while my party and others will, in most parts, condemn it. But I prefer to bring to our attention the lives that were lost in this orgy of violence that was occasionally interrupted by voting. Door to door campaigning became door to door shooting and everything from dynamite to beheadings became the order of the day. The number of bullets expended exceeded the number of voters. If we seek to govern in peace, we really must sanitise and demilitarise our political process. This message applies to both parties and to INEC. As I said after the Presidential elections, “What goes around comes around.” The person beheaded in my community was a well known member of the PDP. The very deep anti-Amaechi sentiment within and outside the creeks backed by guns and an equally well armed pro-Amaechi lobby was always a recipe for chaos.
Buguma, the headquarters of my dear Kalabari Kingdom, was a sitting duck. The Labour Party and the good people of the land, innocent bystanders. Was this war really necessary? No. But it was inevitable. The signs were there.
Let me use this opportunity to thank my team and all our supporters for their sacrifice. I want to assure you that it will not be in vain. You believed in a different kind of Rivers State and you worked and toiled, many times without appreciation, just to achieve it. We didn’t have the kind of money others had, but you moved mountains regardless. I am proud of you. Rivers people are proud of you and we will deliver for them one day by His grace. My happiness is that we lost no one during either our campaign or our elections and we embodied peace all the way. For that, I thank God and I further dedicate my life to Him. As for my next steps and what the party will do going forward, my Deputy and I will be meeting within the party and outside the party over the next few days before we take a decision. We will examine the weight of evidence gathered on the field and talk with our legal team. If 2007 taught me anything, it is that the interest in our matter is bigger than just the Labour Party. This decision is not for me alone to make.
God bless you.
God bless Rivers state.
God bless Nigeria.
Prince Tonye T.J.T Princewill.